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Earth Day 2010; Books: Are they worth the paper their printed on?

 Is the future of the paper book threatened by Earth Day?

More than 30 million trees are being cut down every year to produce the books sold in the U.S. alone.

Ouch. That's a lot of trees. That staggering fact from made me wonder . . .

While millions of people across the globe continue to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, is this self-confessed bibliophile contradicting their efforts with every page she turns? Will converting to eBooks reduce my carbon footprint? How many book lovers right now are vowing to convert in the name of Earth Day 2010?

Being the curious person I am, I decided to investigate. A Google search turned up sites promoting eBooks with slogans such as, (and I'm paraphrasing here): 'Save a tree, read an eBook' and 'Celebrate Earth Day by buying an eBook instead of a print book'.

No wonder the poor guy pictured above is looking so frazzled. It's possible his entire existence is threatened by technology. I'm not against eBooks, not in the least. I just love the feel of a real book in my hands. I love the anticipation of flipping the page to see what's on the other side. And holding a signed copy from one of my favorite authors? Well, it just doesn't get better than that. 

As the sun sets on Lincoln's Earth Day celebrations,
the printed book and the electronic book live together
in harmony--at least for one more year.

Fortunately, my search also yielded an enlightening piece recently published in the NY Times entitled How Green Is My iPad?. The authors, Daniel Goleman and Gregory Norris, know their stuff, so when they join forces to ask and answer ". . .which is more environmentally friendly: an e-reader or an old-fashioned book?", I'm happy to listen.

Goleman and Norris conducted a life-cycle assessment to determine the greenest way to read. While not 100 percent definitive, I was satisfied enough with the results to believe my personal No-Nook (or any other electronic reader) policy wasn't going to destroy the Earth quite yet.

I didn't make it to Lincoln's Day of Celebration at Antelope Park today, but according to the final results of How Green Is My iPad, I think I contributed to a greener community in my own way. I read a book. A book I checked out from Lincoln City Libraries.

What were the results, you ask? There are too many variables to go into here, so I highly recommend reading the article, especially to anyone considering the permanent switch from print to electronic books for ecological purposes alone. But for those of you who can't wait, I give you the final line:  

All in all, the most ecologically virtuous way to read a book starts by walking to your local library.

Here in Lincoln, there are eight different branches of Lincoln City Libraries to choose from. Head to the location nearest you and save the earth!

For more info:

Eco-Libris: Some facts about book publishing
How Green Is My iPad?

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  • Tiffany 4 years ago

    Good to know! We LOVE our library!!!! Of course I also want an iPad so bad I can TASTE it ... but there ya go! ;D

  • Bev 3 years ago

    Good article. Enjoyed it.

  • Frank 3 years ago

    Great topic. Something that will play a major role in eBook growth. Going to tweet this. Hope others do too.

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